SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Korea Bizwire) — The National Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill aimed at establishing an independent panel for an objective probe into a bloody crackdown on a 1980 pro-democracy movement.
The bill calls for verifying the truth behind the brutal use of force by the military-backed Chun Doo-hwan government during the uprising in the southwestern city of Gwangju on May 18, 1980. The crackdown left hundreds of citizens dead or injured.
The Assembly passed the bill in a 158-15 vote with 29 abstentions.
Under the bill, the fact-finding committee consists of nine members — one recommended by the Assembly speaker, four by the ruling Democratic Party and the other four by the opposition parties.
Its two-year mandate can be extended for up to one year, officials said.
The panel is obligated to file a complaint with the prosecutor-general and demand a formal investigation with relevant authorities should they find any legal offense by then-government officials in the process of its investigation.
A government-civilian probe team, created by the Ministry of National Defense, recently found that the local Army launched helicopter gunship attacks on the protesters during the uprising and that fighter jets loaded with bombs were on standby.
It suggests that the military suppressed the demonstrations in a premeditated, brutal manner, investigators added.